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Preview: Ahly coach out to save job in tough African Super Cup

Mohamed Youssef may face the axe if stuttering Ahly fail to beat Tunisia's Sfaxien in the African Super Cup at Cairo Stadium on Thursday

Hatem Maher, Thursday 20 Feb 2014
Mohamed Youssef
Ahly coach Mohamed Youssef (Photo: Ahram)
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Coach Mohamed Youssef will be bidding to end Ahly's dismal run in a timely manner when they host Sfaxien in the African Super Cup on Thursday, bearing in mind that another slip-up could seal his fate.

The Cairo giants have been on a downward slide since the turn of the year, losing three times and drawing once in eight Egyptian Premier League games, leaving them third in Group A behind unfancied duo Smouha and Arab Contractors.

Youssef made an instant impact after replacing Hossam El-Badry, guiding Ahly to the African Champions League title which came against the backdrop of a variety of problems plaguing domestic football, including a lengthy stoppage due to lingering security concerns.

However, injuries to key players, the retirement of talismanic playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika and the dip in form of some veterans such as defender Wael Gomaa left his side vulnerable.

Ahly's latest stumble saw them lose 1-0 to second-from-bottom Gouna, who caught their opponents on the break more than once and could have won by a bigger margin.

The poor run fuelled speculation that Portuguese coach Manuel Jose, who is hugely popular among Ahly's fans, could return to the club for a fourth stint, having led them to a host of major titles in three spells during the past decade.

"I don't care about any rumours. I'm only focusing on the Super Cup game," former Ahly defender Youssef told the pre-match news conference on Wednesday.

"Anything other than the match, even talks about a new coach, does not bother me," he added, before leaving the hall before the end of the conference, to the dismay of Sfaxien coach Hamadi Daou.

Record winners

Ahly are the record Super Cup winners with five titles under their belt, with the last coming in February 2013 when they beat AC Leopards of Congo 2-1 in Alexandria.

They beat Sfaxien 2-1 in the same competition in 2009 but their most famous meeting was in 2006 when a last-gasp volley from Abou-Treika gave Ahly a memorable Champions League triumph.

"We appreciate the status of the Super Cup and are determined to play without pressure. Sfaxien are a big team and our mission is to prove that by defeating Ahly," coach Hamadi Daou said.

Ahly will welcome back their die-hard supporters after Egyptian authorities said up to 30,000 fans will be allowed to attend the match at Cairo Stadium.

They will have striker Emad Meteb available after he recovered from a hamstring injury. Sfaxien will have to do without Gabonese midfielder Ibrahim Ndong, who fractured a leg during a Tunisian league game.

"I can't predict the outcome, anything can happen. Remember that a stronger Ahly side lost the Champions League final in 2007 in Cairo," Youssef said.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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